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Greatest Technological Inventions of the Past 25 Years
The Greatest Technological Inventions of the Past 25 Years
1. Hybrid Cars
The history of hybrid cars goes back to the year 1900, when legendary engineer Ferdinand Porsche (yes, the guy that started Porsche) built the Mixte which used individual wheel motors. But it wasn t until 1997 that improved lithium ion and nickel metal hydride battery tech allowed the first mass produced hybrid the Toyota Prius to hit the streets. Though plagued with problems at first, the Prius got better and an entire market was born. Every automaker either builds one, or plans to bring one to market. And it s easy to see why: In 2009, hybrids accounted for 2.5% of all American car sales. It s big business, kid.
Though a major hit in Japan, the MiniDisc never got the respect it deserved here in the States. Maybe it was because Sony insisted on using its proprietary ATRAC format. Maybe it s because only a handful of artists chose to release their albums on MiniDisc. Or, it could have been the dominance of CDs. Whatever the case was, Sony s MD delivered HD sound in a small package and allowed you to record high def sound. At least they got Blu ray right.
3. Color Plasma Display
It used to be that if you wanted the best possible picture from a flatscreen television, you would cop a plasma. The blacks were richer, the action was faster, and the colors were brighter. We can all thank the University of Illinois for that. It developed the technology Fujitsu used to build the first color plasma display. See, Lincoln s home produced more than shady politicians. Hold ya head, Blago!
4. Optical Computer Mouse
Remember when you had to buy a special cleaner to wipe your (mouse) ball down every time it got a little grimy? If you don t, thank you for making us feel super old. If you do, then you also remember how crazy an optical mouse was. Optical mice work using either an LED or laser diode along with a image processor to track the surface it s sliding across. Developed in the 80s by two teams one at MIT and one at Xerox it wasn t until 1998 when Travis N. Blalock, Richard A. Baumgartner, Thomas Hornak, and Mark T. Smith at HP Labs patented the technology that it became a hit with the masses.
5. LED Headlights
Light emitting diodes (LED) have been used for taillights, turn signals, and cabin lights for some time now. With the technology advancing to the point where an LED setup can produce more light than a traditional incandescent headlight while using less energy and producing less heat, carmakers like Audi are starting to use LED bulbs as their main source of illumination. What this means is greater, cleaner visibility, with a design way iller than anything we ve seen so far.
6. Electronic Tolls
Like a lot of other useful consumer tech, electronic toll collection (ETC) came from the armed forces. It was derived from the military spec identification technology known as friend or foe (IFF), which allowed access for certain vehicles to enter certain areas. First implemented for regular people in Norway in 1986, ETC has spread around the world, making drivers still paying with hard currency pissed to all hell when they have to wait in a congested cash lane when the E ZPass lanes are wide open.
7. OLED TV
Sony may have jumped the gun with its 10 inch OLED monitor, but we still think organic light emitting diode may be the future of display technology. Well, it will be, as soon as someone figures out how to produce it for cheap. OLED is basically a thin film made up of organic compounds that come to life when an electric current passes through it. This allows devices based on the tech to be super thin. And because it doesn t use a backlight, colors come out bright and sharp. It has a faster response time than LCDs. Though there are a host of burdens to overcome besides the cost of production five year average life spans, outdoor viewing the possible applications are limitless.
8. Blu ray
We have to admit, we at Complex still rock with regular ol DVDs. However, that doesn t mean we don t appreciate the huge step forward the Blu ray disc represented for digital media. With the ability to store 25 gigs of data on one disc, the amount of cool shit that movie and video game companies can give to the consumer is limitless. Yeah, many thought HD DVD was better, and many more believe there s no future in solid state media, but thanks to the PS3, damn near 40 million people own a Blu ray player. Combine that with the fact that 3 D content will be strictly Blu ray and you have a format that we think is here to stay. Maybe we ll make the switch...to Blu ray, not to PS3.
9. Satellite TV
Yeah, it s not ideal to have when there s a Nor easter wrecking shit outside your window, but the ability to have afforable and practical premium television trasmitted to your crib via satellite was kind of a big deal when it hit our shores in 94. That s not so great, you say? Well, you probably had cable available in your area. For those living in the sticks or in a locale where Comcast or Time Warner weren t available, satellite TV was your only option. Plus, with its plethora of exclusive sports packages (word to Season Ticket), DirecTV became the must have for fans (and degenerate gamblers) nationwide.
10. Recordable DVDs
Developed by Pioneer in 1997, DVD R allowed consumers to record high def content to DVDs and send em out to family members whether they wanted them or not. It also let burgeoning porn companies catch up to the digital age. Power to the people!
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